The Baconao Biosphere Reserve is situated in southeastern Cuba, between Santiago de Cuba and the province of Guantanamo, and includes three well-defined biogeographic zones. The area is a large park region with various attractions in addition to wildlife refuges and coffee plantations.
Baconao Biosphere Reserve
The Baconao Biosphere Reserve is situated in southeastern Cuba, between Santiago de Cuba and the province of Guantanamo.
It includes three well-defined biogeographic zones: the Meseta de Santiago, the Sierra de la Gran Piedra, and the Meseta Santa Maria de Loreto.
The Baconao Biosphere Reserve comprises rainy mountain forests, cloud forests, evergreen mesophyll sub-mountain forests, and evergreen microphyll coastal and sub-coastal xeromorphic bush forests, with pine forests and column cacti. Coastal rocky and sandy habitats, mangroves, and cave ecosystems are considered other major habitats.
High biodiversity in flora (1,800 reported species) and fauna and many threatened endemic species such as bats, spiders, and insect species living in natural caves have been reported.
More than 38,000 people (2001) live in the buffer zone and the transition area, working in tourism, forestry, cattle raising, and agroecosystems with coffee, fruits, and ornamental flowers.
The general area is a large park region located about 60 km (37 mi) away from Santiago de Cuba. The park contains a variety of attractions in addition to wildlife refuges and coffee plantations. The park has a total surface area of approximately 848 sq km or 327 sq mi.
Approximately 370,000 national and foreign tourists visit this area annually. With 13 tourist accommodation centers, one museum, and three campgrounds in the Reserve, much of the population benefits economically from this activity.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Baconao Biosphere Reserve is the existence of important archaeological sites from ancient native cultures.
Ancient immigrant coffee plantations (Haitian and French) influenced local practices of introducing species of plants for medicinal, food, and ornamental purposes.
Some of the main attractions of Baconao Park include:
- Great Rock (Gran Piedra)
- Prehistoric Valley
- Farm (Granjita Siboney)
- Botanical Garden
- Museum of History of Terrestrial Transport
- Baconao Lagoon
270 permanent and 80 foreign researchers have participated in research and monitoring activities managed by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment (CITMA) in several research and monitoring laboratories in the area. The most important is the Centro Oriental de Ecosistemas y Biodiversidad (BIOECO).